Not too long ago, our whole family was in the middle of a cloud forest on a rainy afternoon, stuck in the mud. We were driving a huge 15 passenger van (mistake #1), we were backing up on a steep hill on a rainy day (mistake #2), we were pushing the gas in efforts to get out of the hole (mistake #3). It’s amazing how I look back on this incident through different eyes.
After spending a week of serving 100 children at a camp in a nearby rural village, God showed up clothed as precious little children, showing me His joy through their smiles. Here I thought, I was there, to share His love with these kids but they were teaching me.
I learn so much about life, about God and about myself when I work with kids who have grown up with very little. I love seeing their smiles as they walk into the camp with their raggedy, mix-matched clothes and dirty little faces.
They are filled with joy in the midst of their circumstances. Oh, how I long for that.
I learned that kids love snack time and the girls from our team made it extra creative by having the snacks, tie into their lesson for the day. This little guy (pictured below) was so amazing to watch, he had his little baby brother the whole time. Playing “daddy” for him all day and he did it with a huge smile. I’m pretty sure he probably plays “daddy” for him all day, every day. He didn’t really participate in any of the activities because he spent most of his time watching out for his little brother. It was touching to watch.
God showed up in his precious huge smile.
Here’s the group of 100 kids with our team of young women that came down from the states to serve in this rural village.
Well, after the week of enjoying these precious children and some hard labor of painting, sanding and what not, we went to Mindo the cloud forest to have some different kind of fun.
It was raining like it usually does in the cloud forest around winter season but this didn’t stop the girls from enjoying zip lining. Our family headed back into town since we didn’t have rain gear. We found a little chocolate shop that grows it’s own cacao beans and apparently their brownies are to die for, it’s called El Quetzal. The brownies are amazing. We ended up in an interesting situation pretty quickly as we headed up to enjoy some chocolatey goodness.
The little cafe is up on a hill.
It was raining.
We got stuck.
At the cafe there were three white haired tourist sitting around enjoying their coffee and looking very touristy.
And God showed up in the cloud forest, disguised as three white haired elderly tourist.
As I recall the details of this situation, it’s hard not to think about how this “stuck in the mud” situation is often what I do in my own personal life.
You know, the fall into the pit of ___ (fill it in with whatever situation puts you in the pit).
I get stuck in a rut, in that big black pit.
I can’t get out.
I try and try to get out not realizing I’m only making the whole deeper and burying myself in more.
God is in Heaven, saying, “Stop, Mari. Just stop burying yourself in the hole deeper.” But I can’t, you see I have this thing about NEEDING to figure it out by MYSELF. Or believing the lie that I’m trusting Him but in reality I’m still doing it on my own.
So, I continue with endless activity but only end up frustrated because I’m exhausted from trying and I can’t seem to get out. God says,
“Stand still Mari and call on me.”
Finally, I give up as I lay in the hole exhausted and covered in dirt and I scream in anguish, “Help me, I can’t do this on my own.”
He looks at me with His ever so calming and loving eyes and says, “I know you can’t and I’ve been standing here waiting for you to stop, to stand still. Here take my hand and I’ll lift you up.”
We did get the van out of the mud thanks to the wonderful sweet tourist who helped us out.
This trip was full of God moments. God once again showed up, as the ladies were leaving. All the flights were cancelled to the U.S. these young women who were looking forward to going back and seeing their families were now going to have to stay up to 5 days longer. What seemed like a dreadful ending God turned into a miracle with the help of the kindness of LAN employee they were able to get out on their flight that night even though everyone else’s flights were cancelled. God showed up disguised as a LAN employee.
When we agree to leading a trip I always wonder what God is going to do. You see we are the middle man in all of this. Sometimes there’s a Jonah in the midst of the team and we all suffer as God shows himself to this person. Other times there are doubting Thomas’ on the team and He revels in showing us He can be trusted. Other times He just wants to remind us that He is, in fact, in control of every area of our life. Reminding us to let it go. Though I must admit, it’s not always fun getting ALL caught up in the midst of Him getting His message across to someone on the team. Well, regardless who the message is for, every time God uses these teams to show me who He is whether it’s at that moment or 3 months later.